Jeremy Corbyn hits out at Keir Starmer over Labour election ban

·4 min read
Jeremy Corbyn vowed that neither he nor his hard-Left allies are ‘going anywhere’ - Susannah Ireland/AFP
Jeremy Corbyn vowed that neither he nor his hard-Left allies are ‘going anywhere’ - Susannah Ireland/AFP

Jeremy Corbyn accused Sir Keir Starmer of “denigrating the demographic foundations” of Labour after it emerged that he will be blocked from standing for the party at the next election.

On Tuesday, Sir Keir, the Labour leader, will propose a motion making it clear that the party’s ruling body will not endorse his hard-Left predecessor in Islington North.

The motion says Labour’s chances of winning the next election would be “significantly diminished” if Mr Corbyn is allowed to stand for the party.

Hitting back, Mr Corbyn vowed that neither he nor his hard-Left allies are “going anywhere”, but did not address the question of whether he will stand as an independent against the official Labour candidate in the London seat.

In a statement, he said: “Keir Starmer has broken his commitment to respect the rights of Labour members and denigrated the democratic foundations of our party.

“I have been elected as the Labour MP for Islington North on 10 consecutive occasions since 1983. I am proud to represent a community that supports vulnerable people, joins workers on the picket line and fights for transformative change.

“This latest move represents a leadership increasingly unwilling to offer solutions that meet the scale of the crises facing us all. As the Government plunges millions into poverty and demonises refugees, Keir Starmer has focused his opposition on those demanding a more progressive and humane alternative.

“I joined the Labour Party when I was 16 years old because, like millions of others, I believed in a redistribution of wealth and power. Our message is clear: we are not going anywhere. Neither is our determination to stand up for a better world.”

A spokesman for the pro-Corbyn Momentum group said: “We utterly condemn this venal and duplicitous act from Keir Starmer, which further divides the Labour Party and insults the millions of people inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

“We urge all NEC representatives to reject this anti-democratic manoeuvre – it should be for Islington North Labour members to decide their candidate, not a neighbouring MP drunk on his own power.

“It will come as a surprise to party members in Islington North, who overwhelmingly want Jeremy to be the Labour candidate. Keir is doing this because he knows Jeremy would wipe the floor in any selection contest.”

The former leader had the Labour whip removed in late 2020 after claiming the scale of the party’s anti-Semitism problem had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons” during his leadership.

Mr Corbyn made the comments on the day the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the party was “responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” against Jews. He now sits in the Commons as an independent MP, although he is still a member of the Labour Party.

Sir Keir will propose his motion at Tuesday’s meeting of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee.

A senior Labour source said: “Keir Starmer has made clear that Jeremy Corbyn won’t be a Labour candidate at the next general election.

“The Labour Party now is unrecognisable from the one that lost in 2019. Tuesday’s vote will confirm this and ensure we can focus on our five missions to build a better Britain.”

The NEC has the power to endorse or not endorse a candidate selected for election. The motion states that Labour’s purpose is to win the election, and that “the party has not secured a parliamentary majority in the House of Commons since 2005”.

It says that “in the 2019 general election, led by Rt Hon. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party returned 202 MPs to Parliament, being the lowest number of Labour Party MPs returned since the 1935 general election”.

And it adds: “The Labour Party’s standing with the electorate in the country, and its electoral prospects in seats it is required to win in order to secure a parliamentary majority and/or win the next general election, are both significantly diminished should Mr Corbyn be endorsed by the Labour Party as one of its candidates for the next general election.

“It is not in the best interests of the Labour Party for it to endorse Mr Corbyn as a Labour Party candidate at the next general election.”